milovan Rajevac The Black Stars of Ghana yesterday silenced their critics by qualifying for the semifinal stage of the ongoing Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) in Cote d'Ivoire, beating the dreaded Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) 3-0.
In spite of assurances by some members of the team, the majority of Ghanaians wrote the local Black Stars off after their first two outings, which fetched two points from a maximum of six.
Ghana started the game on a blistering note, dominating in every department of the game.
Charles Asampong Taylor of Accra Hearts of Oak fame was very instrumental in the outcome of yesterday's match.
Having been left out of the first match and coming off the bench in the second, Charles Taylor was given the opportunity to start the third game, and he proved to be the talisman of the team.
The player, who was a thorn in the flesh of the Congolese defence, was everywhere on the field. He delivered a blistering cracker in the 12th minute and another in the 21st (both from freekicks), leaving the Congolese keeper badly shaken. On the stroke of half time, a third freekick from Taylor, which was a low drive, saw the keeper fumbling and squirming the ball into his own net.
Back from recess, the Ghanaians, who were fired up by Taylor's goal, continued their dominance of the game, pressing the Congolese for more goals.
Yaw Antwi scored Ghana's second goal in the 58th minute when he tapped home from close range after Charles Taylor had out-muscled a Congolese defender, paving the way for the striker to score.
This goal seemed to have dashed the hopes of the Congolese, of ever getting back into the game.
At this stage, everybody was expecting the Black Stars to defend their two-goal lead to ensure qualification, but the Ghanaians had other ideas. They intensified their attack, culminating in a brilliant goal by Skipper Edmund Owusu-Ansah in the 80th minute.
Because the other Group B match between Libya and Zimbabwe ended goal-less, DRC has qualified alongside Ghana, who will play Senegal in the semifinal on Wednesday, while DRC play Zambia.
By Mohammed Muniru Kassim